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Backroads

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Backroads Unveils New Trips in 2016

Backroads, a perennial favorite outfitter of our clients, just announced their list of trips for 2016. They include 27 new biking trips, 41 new multisport adventures, and 21 new walking & hiking trips. Active river cruising continues to be extremely popular and next year Backroads is rolling out cruises to more locations in Europe. Families can join the fun on new active river cruises designed just for them. In 2016 Backroads will launch new river cruise trips along the Danube, Rhine, Seine and Portugal’s Douro. Additionally, an entire ship just for Backroads guests sets sail on a Danube Full Ship Celebration River Cruise Bike Tour in September 2016. Family Breakaway trips have also proven to be a huge hit for families with older teens and college-age. To meet increasing demand, Backroads is tripling the options for families in the coming year, launching new Family Breakaway Trips to England, the Basque Region of France & Spain, Croatia & Montenegro, Alaska, the Canadian Rockies, Argentina’s Lake District, Peru, Patagonia, and New Zealand, as well as a Rhine River Cruise. These trips join an already-popular roster of Family Breakaway trips in Tuscany, the Dalmatian Coast, Hawaii and Costa Rica.

I'm off to Indiana with my daughter, Melanie. I'll be back next Monday. In the meantime, get outdoors and keep active! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/26/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, January 21, 2016

What’s New In the World of Travel in 2016

We receive, on average, 500-plus press releases a day telling us about all the new hotel openings, adventures, tours, cruise ships, art exhibitions, and much, much more in the world of travel. That’s in addition to all the travel publications that arrive via snail mail. Believe it or not, we actually skim every one of those emails and magazines to see if anything excites us. If it meets our discerning eye, we pass it on to you. Every January, we highlight what’s new in the world of the travel in our newsletter. Obviously, this is the tip of the iceberg. Simply tell us where you’re headed and we’ll give you the scoop on what’s new. One slight addendum. We received word that the Ritz Paris had a fire in the building this week. This will no doubt push the reopening back once again. 

 
I’m off to Ithaca, New York, back on Monday. Have a great weekend and keep active!
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/21/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Top 5 Wine Regions for Bicyclists, Napa and Sonoma Valley, California

Based in San Francisco since the company started in 1979, Backroads has reaped the benefits of being so close to Napa and Sonoma Valley. Their bike tours to the region are still the industry standard. Ride through the vineyards and soaring redwood forests in the company of new friends, have numerous opportunities for wine tastings at the dozens of wineries that line the cycling routes, get those tired legs worked on at award-winning spas, and then indulge in gourmet meals inspired by local vintages and fresh California ingredients. I call that a recipe for success, the reason why Backroads has become an active travel industry leader. They now offer trips all over the globe, but it’s hard to top the ones in their backyard to California Wine Country

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/17/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Adirondacks Multisport Trip Just Added to the Backroads Roster

Backroads, the world’s leading active travel company, just announced their 2017 line-up and I was excited to see that my boyhood stomping grounds of the Adirondacks finally made the cut. Their 5-day itinerary includes some of my favorite activities, including biking the Lake Champlain Bikeway, hiking Mt. Jo in the high peaks region, and sailing Lake George aboard the Morgan, the Sagamore’s 72-foot replica of a 19th-century touring vessel. Set on a 70-acre island near the village of Bolton Landing, the Sagamore has been the lake’s top address for over a century. Steps from the patio lead past the manicured lawn to the Sagamore’s shoreline, offering views of Dome Island, a large round uninhabited forest of firs that looks almost tropical, a place that King Kong would find homey. On the opposite shores is an uninterrupted carpet of trees that soon rise to 2,000-foot mountains. 

The Adirondacks itinerary came as a result of guests wanting trips closer to home and a wee bit shorter. Other new trips in this category include a Maui & Lanai Multisport Adventure Tour for families and an Arches & Canyonlands Hiking Trip. Backroads added over 40 new trips to their schedule in 2017. Some of the highlights include hiking in Japan, a family trip to Sedona, Bermuda biking, Basque Country and a Galapagos, Andes & Amazon river cruise. Next year they are running a total of 71 active river cruises, including a Danube full ship buyout (150 Backroads guests take over the ship). ActiveTravels is here to help you pick the itinerary that best suits your level of fitness and dates. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/27/16 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Member’s Video Wins Second Prize from Backroads Photo/Video Contest

We love it when members post photos from their recent trips on the ActiveTravels Facebook page. Even better when it’s an award-winning video. We sent Sara Jones and her family of five on a Backroads trip to Glacier National Park last August. Upon her return she created a video of the many memories from the adventures shared in that exquisite part of the country. She then submitted the video to Backroads for their annual photo and video contest and learned recently that she won Second Prize! That’s a $4,000 credit towards her next trip with Backroads. Congratulations Sara! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/07/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

California, Costa Rica, and Toronto In June/July ActiveTravels Newsletter

Northeasterners who are considering hitting the Caribbean over February or March 2018 school break can now book flights on JetBlue through May 1, 2018. This is the time to make your plans before the airfare jumps. In our June/July ActiveTravels newsletter, we also break down our favorite locales in California, an increasingly popular year-round destination, select our top picks for lodging in Costa Rica, and devote our Quick Escape column to Toronto, where our colleague Amy Perry Basseches lives and can give you the inside scoop. 

We’re off to Switzerland with the family tomorrow to visit Zurich, Montreux, Bern, Lucerne, and go on a 6-day hiking and biking adventure with Backroads in the Swiss Alps. We’ll be back on August 1st to tell you all about our experiences. Enjoy the rest of July!
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/18/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Backroads Family Breakaway to Switzerland, First Stop Kandersteg

Having just returned from Switzerland last night, I have to admit that the Backroads trip my family was just on was as close to perfection as it gets in the world of travel. It wasn’t merely the stunning Alps scenery around every bend or the two exceptional group leaders, Agata and Gosia, who led the 6-day jaunt seamlessly with a confident dose of professionalism and buoyant personalities. The families on this trip were wonderful, all yearning for a dose of adventure to celebrate a momentous occasion like a son or daughter soon leaving for their first year of college. After a week of hiking, biking, and kayaking together, swapping anecdotes about our lives, I consider them all friends. But the real reason I think this trip excelled was the itinerary. I’ve been on two other Backroads trips, biking around the Big Island and a multisport trip to Costa Rica, and spent far too much time in shuttles or transfers to the next destination. Switzerland, especially the Swiss Alps, is blessed with an intricate network of trains, gondolas, and ferries that can connect with endless opportunities for high adventure right outside your hotel doorstep. You never have to travel far.

Our first gondola ride took us from the small mountain resort town of Kandersteg up 5,500 feet to Oeschinensee, a glacially carved lake filled with cobalt blue waters. We hiked along the shoreline, passing under countless waterfalls, as we rose some 1,000 feet to a mountain hut. We peered up in awe at 12,000-feet Blümlisalp and its fresh coating of sparkling white snow atop its jagged-edged peak. A worthy introduction to these majestic mountains and their lofty altitudes. I would spend the rest of the week looking up at the staggering beauty every chance I had. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/02/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, August 03, 2017

Backroads Family Trip to Switzerland, Biking from Kandersteg to Thun

If you stared at a map of the Swiss Alps, you could find hikes to do on your own thanks to the wonderful train and gondola system in the country. Where Backroads really excelled on this trip was its design of biking routes, which no rider could possibly emulate. Biking from Kandersteg to Thun took place on an intricate network of narrow backcountry roads and bike trails. We started with an exhilarating downhill run comprised of three hairpin turns. We were soon on a small road that only people who lived on the street could drive. It snaked through a velvety green valley where tall snow-capped peaks stared down from either side. We passed the requisite cows and the jingling of cowbells, and small villages where chalets were lined with colorful dahlias and red geraniums in planters. Soon we were crossing over grated bridges where you could peer down below at the rushing rapids of a river before taking a bike trail through heavy forest into the town of Thun. We dined on pizza at an Italian joint and then strolled the old quarter before taking the train onward to Grindelwald, our home for the next two nights. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/03/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, August 04, 2017

Backroads Family Trip to Switzerland, Ya, Trotti Bike

Grindelwald is one of the gateway towns to the heart of the Swiss Alps. Grab breakfast at your hotel, wander over to the gondola, take it to the third stop, First Peak, and suddenly you’re at 7100 feet staring at a massive rock wall of 13,000-foot high peaks wearing a crown of fresh snow. Or you can’t see anything, which was the case the moment our Backroads group arrived at First Peak, completely socked in with clouds. We strolled around the Cliff Walk, a metal bridge created by Tissot that hugs the precipitous cliffs as you look down and are thankful for Swiss engineering. Nearing the end of this little walk, the clouds lifted and we were witness to this magical disrobing, like a curtain opening at the start of a Broadway play. To the east was mighty Wetterhorn wearing a toupee of whipped clouds, while straight across from me was the mighty north face of Eiger. Stunning. Absolutely stunning. 
 
We hiked a little over 6 miles that day on the Bachalpsee Route, often on a muddy narrow path though an emerald valley. Lunch was on picnic tables with glorious vistas at Waldspitz before the steep downhill to the Bort gondola. Legs tired from the hike, we then had to jump on scooter bikes called Trottis. Remarkably, I fit both feet and hiking boots on the contraption (there is no seat), pointed the bike downhill on a Trotti paved path, and cruised. I was nervous at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s like skiing downhill, carving your own line. Once again, you’re peering up at mighty Eiger spewing expletives of joy the whole way. Ya, Trotti, a ride I won’t soon forget. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/04/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, August 07, 2017

Backroads Family Trip to Switzerland, Hiking the Classic Eiger Trail

Day Four of our Backroads family trip to the Bernese Oberland was the most strenuous and arguably the most memorable day. We took a short train ride from Grindelwald to Alpiglen to start our long uphill climb, over 3,000 feet on the well-trodden Eiger Trail. As we made our ascent, we could see the town of Grindelwald in the valley below. Lofty Eiger Peak, standing 13,020 feet, was socked in with clouds, until we were practically beside her near the trailhead to mountaineering’s epic climb, the North Face. Then the clouds started to part and we were treated to magical views of Eiger and Jungfrau and the hanging glaciers that snaked down the hillside in between. For the next hour, we walked alongside these craggy snow-topped peaks before reaching the village of Kleine Scheidegg, home to the highest major train station in Switzerland and thus a tourism hub in the middle of the Alps. After lunch, we left the crowds behind as we made our way on relatively level ground to the Männlichen Gondola. The only obstacle was a herd of cows we met up with on the narrow path. One cow came straight toward me and I wisely ran into the grass above the trail to avoid being trampled. My legs weren’t working too well at that point but I’m happy to see my brain was. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/07/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Backroads Family Trip to Switzerland, Biking Along the Shoreline of Lake Brienz

As much as I savored being nestled in the Alps at Grindelwald, spending the last two nights at the classic Grandhotel Giessbach was the perfect way to end the trip. Close to Interlaken but far away from the crowds, we were nestled on the serene shores of this glacially carved lake hemmed in by the mountains. As if the scenery wasn’t exquisite enough, the balcony of our room overlooked a powerful waterfall that tumbled down the hillside. We would spend the day biking on a bike path that led to the town of Meringen, known for their meringue cookies (which, of course, we sampled at a bakery) and the town where Sherlock Holmes was staying when Professor Moriarty finally caught up with him at nearby Reichenbach Falls. We cooled off in the frigid waters of the lake at lunch before making our way around the southern shoreline passing small towns as we peered down at the cobalt waters or up one last time at those majestic peaks. We exchanged bikes for kayaks and played games on the lake like tag and water polo before returning to the hotel for one last caipirinha on the deck with the family and a farewell dinner with our new friends. Backroads did an excellent job from start to finish and this is one trip I will happily recommend to others

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/08/17 at 06:00 AM
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photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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